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Literature

Tumours and Butterflies, happiness like water

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Tumours and Butterflies, happiness like water

Book Title: Happiness Like Water

Author: Chinelo Okparanta

Publisher: Granta

Pagination: 196

Year of publication: 2013

Reviewer: Adeniyi Taiwo Kunnu

 

 

Happiness Like Water is a brazen collection of short stories that are fictive realities of our lives. The part of us we love to share, or those moments which are locked up in our remotest recesses. Expressing itself in cunning artistry, the stories become personified as you would a speaking ink on an accompanying piece of white paper, rustling under the weight of a dexterous hand, crafting thoughts and moulding minds without being bridled.

 

On Ohaeto Street opens readers to the un-put-down-able collection. Eze and Chinwe become a married couple after the intrigues of evangelism by Eze. Chinwe’s ideals of a man she wants differ, but as would in many homes, her mother’s will prevailed and she becomes the wife of a man whose religious inclination and financial prospects are enough to make him qualify, thus becoming a husband to a woman whose life he values less than his cars and other material possessions. On page 15, paragraph 3: “But the more she looks at him, the more defeat she feels, because she knows that she’s no match for the car”

 

The challenges of child-bearing and the length a woman is made to go in getting it splatters the pages of the story which makes up ‘Wahala’. From the cleansing process at a herbalist’s, to the hosting of a family party, the threads of pain felt by every woman who makes effort at bearing a child resonates. Nneka, Ezinne’s mother would not be alive to see her daughter bear the name, mgbaliga – an empty barrel. Her daughter’s pain combines the pressure of not becoming productive for Chibuzor, her husband. Again, a woman’s pains rises to a crescendo as she desires the completeness that is associated with a woman’s lifetime cycle. The yearning, the challenges and eventual hope for the ‘fruit of the womb’ prompt deep thoughts.

 

‘Fairness’ is the third and most replete with comical relief of the stories. The mischief of secondary school students was explored, and what rib-cracking moments there were, as an attempt to have light-complexioned skin turns out way beyond expectation. Onyechi suddenly turns fair, while freely availing Uzoamaka and Clara the secret of her magical physical conversion. Experience turns out to be the best teacher afterwards.

 

The devious nature of humans gets the proper examination in the fourth story. ‘Story Story’ is in fact a narrative told about Nneoma and how desperation to have her emotions satiated and motherly longings gratified, results in satanic entrapment through her fetish practices. Four pregnant women lost both ways all for her to conceive a child. The zenith and seeming un-forgiveness of her actions is that, she seeks her prey in the church, showing penitence just for a momentary reprieve of graver ill.

 

Survival series is definitely on the cards as well. Charles Darwin in the Origin of Species says; the most adaptable to change of any living creature survives. By implication, neither the strongest nor the smartest cope, but the ones which understand the dynamics of change. Ada’s mother appears on a journey to death land because of her sickness, having initially lost her husband. Without a father and with a sick mother, Ada becomes a Runs Girl in the self titled story; seeking to cater to her mother’s needs and her education.

 

America and Shelter are in tow. With both settings in the USA, America examines Lesbianism in ways that only few have, while Shelter dwells upon the lack of choice for a woman in a grossly abusive relationship. the former considers the pains of same sex sexual preference and the latter flays the irascible excesses of a man who cannot take a count of his teeth with his tongue.

 

Grace is the seventh and arguably the most profound of the stories in this fiction. It is an unusual lesbian connection between a lecturer in religion and a student of the same department. From seeking answers to prodding on faith, to a sudden swing in mood and complete transfer of intimate loveliness to another; Chinelo Okaparanta demystifies the illusions of amorous expressions between same sex of old and young diversions.

Design pitches a simple Nigerian wife-to-be against a no- holds – barred former girlfriend. Nonso is the man who wants to eat his cake, have it and be a person whose tendency never to lose a thing, while opening his palm facing down is legendary. But legends die, so does the sexual theatrics and subtle ‘penile’ excesses of the man in the middle of an American girlfriend meant to be in the past by the name Celeste, and an unarguably dutiful Ifeinwa, who is now living in America to be a wife.

Tumours and Butterflies is about the indifference to make a mother get out of an abusive relationship. She stays put, while Uchenna, her only daughter could not enjoy the least cordiality with her parents, particularly her father. He falls ill, her mother calls, he remains unbearable, his wife supports him, Uchenna takes a final walk-off and nothing seems the same again.

 

Chinelo Okparanta elevates the women-folk as angels to say the least, whereas the men are sure the albatross of the she-human kind. This position evidently demonstrates a deliberateness to enable women assume more power and positivity, which in itself is good, but her obvious stance may give this brilliant author up as one whose world and literary view needs utmost diversity and elastic geography, which in itself would be very needful..

 

On page 144 she writes, “Happiness is like water…. We are always trying to grab onto it, but it’s always slipping between our fingers….”

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Literature

Beasts on Rampage, Something to Live For and other stories

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Beasts on Rampage,  Something to Live For and other stories

Book title: Love Like A Woman and Other Stories

Author: Razinat T Mohammed

Pagination: 120

Publisher: Kraft Books Limited

Reviewer: Adeniyi Taiwo Kunnu

 

 

T

he human heart is as deep as complex, and when it comes to matters of the woman heart, the discourse takes a unique turn in need of careful attention. Razinat Mohammed in this work, “Love Like a Woman and other stories”, examines the multifarious fictional realities in the lives of different women, deftly navigating the planes of marriage, religion, culture and the vicissitudes that affect other lives.

 

 

Eleven stories in 120 gripping pages; and the reader could never be left the same way because the pieces contained in one piece gets one acquainted with the not-too-often examined daily or lifetime experiences of people. If only we knew the much we should, as someone once said, we would have done more to make the world better than we have it now. From the first story, Razinat simply conveys delicious incidences and at times unsavoury glitches in ‘fine’ vocabulary.

 

 

“Something to Live For” gives needed premonition which later comes to fore in the other stories. Afi, hungry and tired descended into another realm which reveals her experiences as a woman married off against her will. Failing in her bid to commit suicide and having been rescued by a stranger, her life continues for a brief moment in lonely forest. Razinat employs the stream of consciousness technique, demonstrating how often times we keep our fears at the subconscious, but present to the world the side which fits men’s acceptance.

 

 

Importantly, Afi chooses the real world where her torrid relationship with her spouse could not prevent her from getting back to the one person in her family where her only love still remains. She could leave every other thing and move on with her life, but in this instance; the propelling force of love keeps her in. Her memories of Efida can wait, while the painful face-off with Uduma must be shrugged off.

 

 

Sterile Water takes the reader on another fictional journey in realistic representation. Kulu’s life depicts one whose existence is enmeshed in destructive poverty. In a family of five children, jobless husband and offensive cultural practice which are obviously unfavourable to the plight of the mother who toils but gets incommensurate returns. This is a creative output which addresses, not only an area of general concern, but specific cultural distastes.

 

 

The third story, which also doubles as the title of the collection is “Love Like A Woman’s”, takes this narrative a notch higher.  Dije bears the burden of love by giving her life to a man whose mental state defies immediate or remote remedy. The story describes the height of one’s love characterised by ‘ultimate sacrifice’, and in this wise it is a woman giving her life, having first lost the life of the unborn to the violence of a mentally unstable man.

 

 

In “Laila”, Razinat gives new perspective to the weighty concerns of an erstwhile divorcee.  Overwhelmed by the stigma associated with being unmarried on the one side and the fear of being out of a second marriage of three months on the other, Laila contends with the disrespectful gateman in her new home, the pressured facilities, step-children rivalry, perceptions by the older wife and ultimately her sexual preferences.

 

 

The author keeps readers’ taste buds watered with “The U-Turn”. Here, a woman also finds herself on the receiving end of the pugilist. A husband-to-be; a beautiful prospect in a daughter in-law; a dotting mother-in-law and the Achilles Heels of being overweight all come together causing flurry of emotions. So, when England came to Nigeria in the hope of a damsel, Sam got a shocker in eve’s daughter who has indulged beyond measure in ‘fatteners’. In summary, Mary Rose does not have the Knight in any shining armour as hers. He, back to England, while the consolatory words of her mother in-law does nothing to change Sam’s mind.

 

 

“Beasts on Rampage” is another delicious read which queries the sanity of allowing the wild dwell amongst the urbane. There are circuses where wild animals are on display for fun, but having these carnivorous mammals in neighbourhoods gets a thumb down here. Mohammed weaves her words around the humanity in people, touching on the unjust treatment of the average in society and arrives its zenith with the distaste that under-lie her fictive presentation. She sure makes the reader wonder but in a maze of reading experiences.

 

 

One Good Turn is one of morality…, of a home gone apart…. of a child turned out and left on the streets…, of a father bereft of needful values and love and subsequent degeneration but eventual redemption of a dear life. This story x-rays parents and parenting, while also exploring peer influences and workings around it.

 

 

“Official Touts” rounds off this collection, and this story picks holes in the often mentioned fake police experiences. This piece regales readers with the stop and search on the roads by police and the check point experiences. A travelling family that parts with cash and kind; and then in turn receives some ‘change’ from the money stolen from them gets the reader’s needful attention. This is an eye opener to stepping up the game in terms of security so as to keep men of the underworld on their toes.

 

 

A Love Like A Woman and Other Stories is truly a fascinating collection. It is a work recommended for its unique perspectives and indeed a deserving applause as a beautiful piece of literature.

 

 

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Literature

Nigerian poet, Ipadeola, bags International Writing Programme in US

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Nigerian poet, Ipadeola, bags International Writing Programme in US

Award-winning poet and author of short stories, Tade Ipadeola, has been selected alongside 28 other accomplished writers from across the globe to participate in the International Writing Programme (IWP) Fall Residency at the University of Iowa, courtesy of the United States Department of State.

Ipadeola, who was the 2013 winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature, left on September 1 to participate at the world’s oldest and largest multinational writing residency. The programme ends on to November 16.

Before Ipadeola’s selection, 34 Nigerian literary figures had participated in the IWP Fall Residency. Notable among them are Elechi Amadi (1973), Cyprian Ekwensi (1974), Ola Rotimi (1980), Femi Osofisan (1986), Niyi Osundare (1988), Festus Iyayi (1990), Lola Shoneyin (1999), Obari Gomba (2016).

Over the course of 11 weeks, Ipadeola and the other participants will give readings and lectures that share their work and cultures, collaborate with artists from other genres and art forms, and travel to interact with audiences and literary communities across the United States.

In addition, the residency will provide the writers a one-of-a-kind inter-cultural opportunity to forge productive relationships with colleagues and translators, and take part in the vibrant social and academic life of the University of Iowa as well as the larger American literary scene.

United States Consulate Public Affairs Officer, Russell Brooks congratulated the Nigerian writer on his acceptance into the residency program.

According to him, the goal of the IWP Fall Residency is to provide outstanding writers with a platform for cultural exchange and collaboration.

Ipadeola, an essayist and translator, has three published works, including The Sahara Testament, a poetry collection, which won the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2013 and has been translated into Dutch, French, Spanish and Xhosa.

In 2009, he won the Delphic Laurel in Poetry for his Yoruba poem Songbird at the Delphic Games in Jeju, South Korea. In 2012, he translated Paid on Both Sides, the first dramatic work of renowned Anglo-American poet, W.H. Auden, into Yoruba as Lamilami.

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Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

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Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

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Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

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on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

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Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

Published

on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

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Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

Published

on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

Continue Reading

Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

Published

on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

Continue Reading

Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

Published

on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

Continue Reading

Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

Published

on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

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Literature

Homage to an uncommon revolutionary scholar

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Homage to an uncommon revolutionary scholar

Title: Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance: Essays in Honour of Professor Funminiyi Oladele Adewumi

 

Editors: Owei Lakemfa and Ahmed Aminu Yusuf

 

 

Publishers: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Abuja

 

Year of publication: 2018

 

Pages:     306 pages

 

Reviewer: Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

 

 

P

rofessor Funmi Adewumi (1960-2017) died so painfully at the height of his powers. As the dedication of this book committed to his memory goes, Prof Adewumi “devoted his life to honest intellectualism, a better society based on social justice, and to the emancipation of the poor, the disinherited and the defenceless.”

 

 

‘Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance’ is a compilation of some of the papers presented at a “National Symposium” following Prof Adewumi’s death which held at the ETF building, Hall A, College of Humanities, Osun State University (OSU), Ikire Campus. The symposium, sponsored by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, had the theme “Democratic Space, Labour and the Socio-Economic Liberation of Nigeria.”

 

 

According to the editors, Owei Lakemfa and Ahmed Aminu Yusuf, in their Preface, “Professor Funmi Adewumi, in his thoughts and deeds, was an intellectual of the universe, not just because he taught in various countries and crisscrossed the universe seeking and spreading knowledge, but because his worldview, learning, research and work had universal origins and applications.”

 

 

In his Foreword, Funmi Adewumi’s comrade in the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Femi Falana (SAN) pays deserving tribute to “a committed and dedicated intellectual, who devoted his life to the study of the working class, the political education of union leaders and activists, and was an active participant in the struggles of workers for improved working and living conditions, national development, the enthronement of social justice and the emancipation of the poor.”

 

 

Divided into four parts and made up of 18 chapters, ‘Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance’ starts with an Introduction, “Funmi Adewumi: In the Race of Time”, written by one of the editors, Owei Lakemfa, who recounts how as a 19-year-old University of Ife sophomore he met his age-mate, Funmi Adewumi, who was already in the third year as a History Education undergraduate and they bonded as “part of a tribe of youths who had consciously decided to either change our country from its under-developed and dependent political economy or dedicate our lives fighting to do so.”

 

 

The title of the book is taken from Professor Funmi Adewunmi’s 2009 Inaugural Lecture at Crawford University, Faith City, Igbesa, Ogun State, to wit, “Unions Without Unionism: Towards Trade Union Relevance In Nigeria’s Industrial Relations System And Polity,” which is included here. As in the case of Nelson Mandela, the struggle was Funmi Adewumi’s life as he writes: “As a Part 1 student at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (1977/78), I got involved in prosecuting the Ali-must go struggle in 1978, thus marking the beginning of my involvement in political activism. I got elected into the Students’ Representative Council during the 1978/79 academic session and by the time I was in 300 Level; I became Chairman of the Students’ Union Electoral Commission. The Central Executive Council that was elected that year remains one of the most dynamic in the history of students’ unionism in the university.” The elected student leaders went on to distinguish themselves in Nigeria, notably Wole Olaoye (President), Greg Obong-Oshotse (Secretary), Femi Falana (Public Relations Officer) etc. Professor Adewumi concludes the essay by stating that it is “necessary to re-invent trade unionism in Nigeria as a necessary step in ensuring the relevance of trade unions within the Nigerian social formation.”

 

 

‘Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance’ is a compilation of in-depth essays by academics, activists, journalists, researchers, trade unionists and a public servant, namely: Owei Lakemfa, Professor Sola Fajana, Funmi Komolafe, Ade A. Ola-Joseph, Olutoyin Mejiuni (PhD), Oluranti Samuel (D.Phil.), Comrade Ismail Bello, Jubril Olayiwola Jawando, Aderemi Medupin (PhD), Ahmed Aminu Yusuf, Comrade Martin Adekunle Babawale, Professor Tunde Babwale, Baba Aye, Femi Aborisade, Abiodun Aremu, Oluranti Afowowe and Comrade Gbenga Komolafe.

 

 

Aside from proclaiming the bona-fides of Professor Funmi Adewuni and what he stood for and why he stood for the principles, ‘Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance’ interrogates the Nigerian state’s implementation of undemocratic, nondemocratic and anti-democracy neoliberal policies as exemplified by the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

 

 

The trade unions come up for censure for not adequately promoting and advancing the interests of the working classes. The need to move Nigeria onto the path of development, true democracy and social justice by instituting people-centred and driven developmental policies cannot be over-emphasised.

 

 

Professor Funmi Adewumi lived and died fighting for the lives, struggles, well-being and welfare of the working class, students and other vulnerable people in Nigeria. With the existence of a book such as ‘Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance’, it is very obvious that Professor Adewumi did not die in vain.

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